Searching for a new credit card or personal loan can be an intimidating experience.
Financial services companies can be relentless. Whether it’s packing your mailbox with credit card offers or bombarding you with advertisements on your favorite websites, lenders are in your face with their products.
And of course, each one claims to have the best possible deal reserved specifically for you.
With so many firms competing for your business, how do you know which one to choose? Narrowing down the field is a hassle, and reading through page after page of fine print is exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else could sort through the offers for you?
This type of service used to require a professional, but now plenty of personal finance websites will loan shop on behalf of borrowers.
One of those sites is Fiona, which isn’t a lender but rather a comprehensive search tool for seeking out new bank accounts, loans, credit cards and insurance products.
In this Fiona review, we’ll run down the details of how the service works, explain the pros and cons, and help you decide whether it’s a good option in your particular situation.
Fiona is powered by Even Financial, a leading search engine for financial services. The site offers a variety of products, including:
- Credit cards
- Life insurance
- Personal loans
- Savings accounts
- Student loan refinancing
It also provides a learning center for users to review the basics of personal finance, as well as a portal to TransUnion for checking credit scores.
Some of Fiona’s financial partners include American Express, Capital One, Lincoln Financial Group, Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Pacific Life.
As a user of the site, you’ll choose the type of product you’re interested in and provide some basic pre-screening information. Fiona then stacks your best options side by side, making it easy to compare loan rates, terms and other important data.
What Fiona Does
- Match you up with financial services providers based on a few simple screening questions. Fiona takes in a little bit of personal information and returns the best offers based on your financial history and goals.
- Make it easy to view offers from multiple companies quickly with a single search. You’ll view different options side-by-side to easily compare interest rates, minimums, fees, or any other features specific to the financial product you’re searching for.
What Fiona Doesn’t Do
- Provide loans or financial services of any kind. Fiona isn’t a bank or lender. They don’t supply funds to users, nor do they offer financial advice. The site is strictly a comparison tool.
- Provide actual final quotes and terms. Fiona is an intermediary that matches borrowers and lenders through their search tool using pre-screening methodology, but the final terms are determined by the lender. That means the quote you see on Fiona may differ from what you’re actually offered.
- Process your application or service your loan. Applications are processed by the individual lenders, not Fiona. Once you select an offer, you’ll begin and complete the application directly on the lender’s site.
Who will benefit most from using Fiona? Consumers who feel overwhelmed by financial jargon and just want things explained to them in simple terms. Fiona’s motto is “Finance Made Friendly,” and they try to make the search process as unintimidating as possible. You won’t need a CPA to understand the terms and conditions of these offerings.
How It Works
Fiona matches prospective borrowers with their financial partners using screening information such as annual income, credit score and zip code. The service is free to use, and Fiona earns a commission every time they pair up a borrower with a lender.
Fiona matches lenders with users looking for two different types of loans: personal loans and student debt refinancing loans. Personal loans are offered by most major financial institutions, but some of the firms Fiona partners with specialize only in student loan refinancing.
Before matching you with personal loan offers, Fiona will ask for some basic information. In the menu bar, you’ll enter your credit score range, zip code, reason for borrowing, and the amount you need.
Fiona uses these four data points to pull loan offers from their partners.
Personal loan offers come from online lenders like Prosper, Marcus, Upgrade, SoFi and Lending Point. If your credit score is in the “poor” range (below 620), you’ll likely only receive offers from OneMain Financial or Opp Loans, which may require a security deposit.
Student Loan Refinancing
Student loan debt is one of the biggest issues facing young Americans today. Nearly 45 million student borrowers owe a combined $1.6 trillion, the largest figure in modern history.
If your student loan terms are unfriendly and you aren’t eligible for federal relief, refinancing your loans could lower your interest rate or monthly payment.
To search for student loan refinancing firms, enter your credit score, zip code, and the loan amount you’re looking to refinance into the search bar.
Fiona works with online student loan lenders like LendKey, CommonBond and SoFi to refinance student debt, but most of these lenders require minimum credit scores of 650 for consideration.
You can also choose whether you want a variable or fixed rates.
Credit cards can be dangerous if used improperly. Credit card debt is particularly destructive because the interest rate on most cards is ridiculously high, even with good credit.
However, if used properly, credit cards can boost your credit score while earning perks like cash-back rewards and points for future deals.
Fiona has credit card offers from a number of different providers, many coming with unique benefits. Take the Deserve EDU Mastercard for example; qualified applicants will get 1% cash-back on all purchases plus a free year of Amazon Prime Student.
Many of the cards offered by Fiona’s lending partners are ideal for building credit, but be sure to read all the terms and conditions. If you have a low credit score, you might only receive offers for secured cards or cards with steep annual fees.
Fiona breaks down credit cards into categories like debt consolidation, credit building, cash rewards, travel perks, and so on. Users can sort their offers by APR, annual fee, or card name/provider.
The interest rates offered by savings accounts at most major banks are laughably low. But online banks don’t have the overhead costs of brick-and-mortar institutions and online savings accounts have extremely competitive rates. Most of Fiona’s partners for savings accounts are these online banks.
To see your offers, you’ll first need to choose a deposit amount.
The options are:
- Less than $1,000
- $1,000 to $5,000
- More than $5,000
You’ll then be given offers, based on your zip code, for products like online savings accounts, high yield checking accounts and cash management accounts.
Getting offers for life insurance requires a bit more information than other products. You’ll be asked specific personal information like age, sex, height, weight, and history of tobacco use.
Once you’ve entered this info, you’ll receive offers in three tiers:
- Basic ($250,000)
- Essential ($500,000)
- Elite ($1 million)
All offers are for term life insurance with a length of 20 years. Providers include Pacific Life, AIG, Transamerica, Prudential and Lincoln Financial Group.
See also: If it’s your first time buying life insurance, read our complete beginner’s guide, which explains how to choose the right policy and get the best deal possible.
Your credit score is your financial report card. A good credit score will open up opportunities to better financial products like cheap loans or credit cards with gaudy rewards. Fiona has a portal to check your credit score with TransUnion, but you’ll need to create a separate account with them.
Fiona Pros and Cons
Fiona is a convenient financial search tool with plenty of reasonable offers for prospective users. However, the site has limited offerings for individuals with low credit scores and the best possible deal might not be amongst the options they present.
- Easy, fast process. Searching for loans, credit cards or insurance products is painless. You’ll have your available offers within seconds after entering only a few pieces of information.
- Completely free to use. Fiona doesn’t charge for their service, although their lending partners may have origination fees on their loans or annual fees on their credit cards.
- Does not hurt your credit score. Using Fiona will not affect your credit score. All of Fiona’s lender partners run soft credit pulls to provide initial offers. However, once you decide to actually submit an application, you’ll be subject to a hard pull.
- Offers a bevy of educational and reference materials. Fiona has a great library of educational articles that cover topics such as the difference between savings and checking accounts, the merits of credit cards versus debit cards, and the importance of credit scores. Plus, there’s a breakdown of Fiona’s lending partners.
- Only screens for pre-qualification. Fiona will tell you what your repayment terms and conditions will likely be, but the final say comes down to the lender. Just because you’re pre-qualified for an offer doesn’t mean you have a 100% chance of approval.
- Features only offers from partners, which means you may not be getting the best possible deal. Like most personal finance search engines, Fiona only retrieves offers from their lending partners. While you may be getting exposed to the best deals from that pool of lenders, those deals may not necessarily be the best deals available to you.
- Does not offer mortgage or auto loans. If you’re looking to buy a home or refinance the loan on your car, you’ll need to use a different site.
Searching for an offer on Fiona will result in a soft credit pull, which doesn’t harm your credit score. However, as part of the actual application process, most of Fiona’s loan providers will subject you to a hard pull to get a more accurate picture of your credit history before making a final decision.
Fiona’s services are completely safe. Personal data is digitally encrypted and banking information is protected by Plaid, a Visa-owned financial services firm that speeds up the application process by automatically confirming routing and account numbers. Fiona will never actually receive your banking information.
Fiona’s service is free for all users, but they do receive compensation for their efforts. When a user completes a deal, the lending partner pays Fiona for the referral. Business models like this are common in the online finance world, but it may result in users not getting the best possible deal.
When using a comparison tool, I like to not only see what the tool/aggregator shows but also check out the rates and product offering I would get by going direct with some of the bigger name companies in the field. Similar to how Southwest Airlines doesn’t advertise its rates on Kayak, not every financial company places its products on an aggregator like Fiona.
Searching for a new life insurance policy or savings account is much less tedious when using an online search tool like Fiona, but it’s important to understand the limitations of such services.
Yes, it’s completely free to use and none of Fiona’s lending partners charge application fees. But origination fees are still common and your loan options are limited to the companies Fiona has a business relationship with.
Getting the best deal on loans, credit cards and bank accounts is the end goal of all consumers. Fiona is a nice instrument to add to your financial toolbox, but it doesn’t guarantee the best of the best.
Users would be wise to use Fiona in conjunction with other online search tools in order to make sure they get the optimal offering.